January 17, 2013; Richmond, VA USA; Virginia Commonwealth Rams head coach Shaka Smart gestures from the bench against the Saint Joseph

Charlotte 49ers vs VCU: Rams wreak havoc on Niners



Oops, another uncalled foul just happened. That’s what you have to look forward to when the VCU Rams employ their “Havoc” defense. The Charlotte 49ers shot 22 free throws to the Ramss 8, but if all the fouls had been called, the Niners could have shot 50-60. It’s hard to play when you are constantly fouled with no relief, as VCU’s 68-61 win demonstrates.

The Observer ran three photos in the paper today: all three were Rams fouling 49ers.  VCU’s Juvonte Reddic has the minor foul on Pierria Henry on the Sports cover page.  VCU’s Melvin Johnson hits Chris Braswell on the arm and head while the ball is loose in the air.  And most notorious, VCU’s Troy Daniels has an offensive foul on Terrance Williams with a punch to the midsection. (Lucky it wasn’t a little bit lower, or T-Will would be singing soprano.)

I went to get a feel for the crowd before the game.  Student Ryan Benson stated that this is the “biggest game at Halton in years.”  Ryan is one of the leaders in famed Section 104 that yells at opponents all game.  We even had a NC State Representative show up with his family, Jason Saine.  Jason and his wife Kathryn are both 49ers Alumni.  They were attending the first game ever for their young son, Jackson.  Jackson was wearing a Junior 49er Club t-shirt, and jumping up and down in anticipation of the game.  Maybe we should get little Jackson to fire up the crowd!

VCU is led by Coach Shaka Smart.  His unusual name reminds me of singer Chaka Khan and Zulu Chieftain, Shaka Zulu.  Shaka Zulu whupped the British Army with spears and shields against guns.  Definitely awesome.

Everyone is looking forward to proving ourselves vs. VCU, aka Virginia Commonwealth University.  It was just two years ago that VCU went on a Cinderella run to the Final Four.  Even more amazing, they were one of the First Four, who are at a disadvantage because of an extra game to even get to where everyone else starts at.  To go from First Four to Final Four is almost as awesome as Shaka Zulu fighting off the British Empire.

To know why the “Havoc” defense overwhelms refs with so many fouls they can’t call, you have to understand what “Havoc” is.  VCU was in the February 4, 2013, Sports Illustrated, where SI examined the root word of havoc, and how it originally meant plunder, and later meant devastation and disorder.  All three of those words would apply to this game.

The names of VCU’s “Havoc” defensive plays:

-Double-Fist- Man-to-Man trap.

-Diamond- 1-2-1-1 zone.

-Madman- Guards the inbounder and makes sure, Smart says, “he can smell your breath.”

-Jammer- Keeps the ball from being inbounded to a Point Guard.

-Heating Up The Ball- Put the dribbler under duress.

There was a good VCU turnout for the game.  They look like they will be trouble, and could potentially be louder than us.  During team intros, the VCU fans start a “Let’s Go Rams!” chant.  We counter with “Forty” and “Niners” chants.  It is the battle of the crowds to start the game as we have dueling chants in Halton Arena.

After we score the initial basket to go up 2-0, VCU goes on an 8-0 run for an 8-2 lead and a 7-2 run for a 15-4 lead.  There is lots of “Havoc” defense as VCU looks like it is one man five times.  They play as one.  We can periodically play our own “Havoc” but we cannot keep it up like the masters of “Havoc,” VCU.  Mandeep Gill mentions, “They know our offense.  Stop inside.  We can’t shoot the three.”

At the 14:45 timeout I make a joke about the guy cheerleader didn’t flip when all the girl cheerleaders did and we should fire him.  Chris Guin responds, “There should never be a guy cheerleader.”

Down 18-11, 9:33 mark.  We’re fouled on a steal attempt when we try to create our own “Havoc.”  We’re fouled again at the 8:41 mark, down 20-11.  VCU fans calling for a travel on us.  I wonder if it would be close if we could hit our free throws.  We hit 1-2 to cut it to 20-12.

At 8:06 mark, we get called for a travel, but wanted the foul.  We’re down 22-12.  From here we go on a 10-0 run to tie at 22-22 because refs calling fouls has gotten to VCU.  Once we tie, the refs will quit calling fouls again so VCU can massacre us again.

I wonder what exactly a commonwealth is, anyway.  I know it goes back to colonial days, but not every colony was a commonwealth, “a political community founded for the common good,” per Wikipedia.  But after experiencing “Havoc” defense, I feel a much different definition is in order.

VCU scores at .1 left in the half to make it 33-28.  There is a mystery foul called on us.  VCU hits the Free Throw.  It’s 34-28 at the half.

VCU gets a dunk to start the second half.  36-28 VCU.

VCU gets a dunk again.  Timeout at the 17:32 mark.  41-32 VCU.  We hear the “VCU” chant from the Rams fans.

Timeout at the 13:25 mark.  Down 45-35.  We’re getting fouled every possession.  We are getting no calls.

At the 13:11 mark, we finally get a foul call.  The crowd mock cheers and claps.

At the 13:07 mark, another foul.  We hit 1-2 at the line.

An unidentified Niner Fan is kicked out of the stands.  I am all for smack talk in good fun back and forth, but Unidentified was saying personal things to VCU fans that was over the line.  I even tried to warn him that security was watching him, but he ignored my advice to cool it.  I hate to see one of our own get tossed, but we need to be good hosts.  Unidentified did however have support on Twitter.  Twitter was trending to “free” him.  Josh Black tweeted, “VCU is getting away with more on the floor than (Unidentified) could do in the stands.”

At the 8:50 mark we are down a touchdown, 49-42.  There is a turnover by Braswell at the 7:52 mark.  We’re down 52-42, and it goes to 54-42.

We get two scores to cut it to 54-46 at the 6:31 mark.  VCU calls timeout.

VCU hits a three to go up 62-48 at the 4:55 mark.

A VCU fan argues a call.  Our fans mock a chant at the cop in our section to “Walk her out,” as they are still upset over Unidentified Niner Fan being tossed.

A timeout at the 3:02 mark.  Good news, bad news.  The good news is we held VCU to no shot and the :35 second shot clock ran out.  The bad news is that down 12 this late, that’s not even a bad play for VCU.

At 1:05 mark we are down 66-54.  The students have gone silent.  So much for home court advantage.

We hit a three, 66-57.  Now the students pay attention.

VCU scores to make it 68-57 at the 48.7 mark.  We score the next two buckets to get it to 68-61, and that is our final.

Still not wanting to concede defeat at the end, Chris Guin comments that VCU stands for “Very Crappy University.”

The fans are livid on Twitter at the lack of enforcement of foul rules by the refs after the game.  Jason Feltis tweets, “People are walking out.  ‘This isn’t even basketball.’ they say.”  Tim Parker tweets, “Shaka Smart has his hands in his pockets 90% of the time, has the refs in there as well.”  Ross Smith comments, “Clayton gets a double stiff arm in the paint, ref swallows whistle and ‘talks to’ player while VCU hits a 3.”

-Baseball debuts next weekend, February 15-17 against Delaware State.  Feb. 15 is a 4 p.m game, Feb. 16 is a Double Header at 12 and 3:30 p.m., and Feb. 17 is a 12 p.m. game.  The first Saturday tailgate is Feb. 16.  You can hang out with 49er fans before the DH.

-Softball debuted this weekend with the First Pitch Classic.  On Friday, Feb. 8, they lost to Wisconsin 12-3.  Saturday was a doubleheader, with a loss to Notre Dame 5-1 and a win over Presbyterian 8-6 in 8 innings.  Sunday was another win over Presbyterian 11-8 in 8 innings.

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